Browse Category: Leadership Nuggets

Haiti in 5 Days!

We will be leaving for Haiti in five days. Crazy!

It is wild to think that a couple months ago we were in the planning stages of this this. And now here we are… on the brink of something exciting and unforgettable. Let me tell you a little about it.

The goods!

Myself, Jen and another adult will be leading ten high school students to Port-Au-Prince for a short 6-day trip with Compassion International. There we will be serving the people of Haiti by helping renovate a computer lab (laying tile, painting, light construction) and having plenty of relational time with the children of Compassion. If you aren’t familiar with Compassion, check them out here. They are a highly-respected, four-star charity (through Charity Navigator) with impeccable financial integrity. Basically, for $38/month you can sponsor a child from somewhere around the world and provide him or her with the essentials to impact their future. The monthly donation provides a loving, church-based Sponsorship Program that includes: food, clean water, medical care, education, life-skills, and the opportunity to hear about Jesus and be encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God.

I started sponsoring Meylin (from Guatemala) when I was a Sophomore in college. That was in 2001. Now, 11 years later, she has gone from a precious 4-year-old to a mature, confident 15 year old young lady! It’s been very neat to see her grow up and write letters back and forth.

What I am asking for right now is prayer. Please pray for safety, health, team morale, the people/children we’ll encounter, and the experiences that each team member will bring back to them as they return home a week later.

As I personally prepare for the trip I want to think about ways to not only commit to these children in Haiti, but also to the ten students we will be leading. They will each bring home a different experience, a different perspective. Their lives will be changed and their hope renewed.

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Are you involved with Compassion or a similar charity?
Will you commit to pray for our team next week (Apr 1-6)?

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Thinking about ways to cohesively align with Orange’s vision, I will occasionally be blogging (and tweeting #thinkorange) with ‘The Next Generation’ in mind. I encourage you to do the same. Additionally, I will be blogging during the Orange Conference 2012. If you plan on being there, please let me know!

The Next Generation

It is weird to think about sometimes, but I’m twice as old (or older) as some high-schoolers nowadays.

There are many things that have changed over the course of 15-20 years or so since I was in middle/high-school.

Instead of texting, I rode my bike to the neighbors’ house to see if my friend was home.

Instead of Googling, I flipped open my parents’ Encyclopaedia Britannicas or went to the library.

Instead of Facebooking a girl, I actually went up and talked to her.

(Okay, who am I kidding… I didn’t talk to girls. HA!)

Photo credit: Iman Al-Dabbagh (Creative Commons)

Along with many of the differences between now and then, I am certain one thing hasn’t changed since I was in high-school: the impact that an adult leader can have in a student’s life.

Thinking back on yesterday’s ‘announcement‘, I couldn’t help but come back to think about the ways I am striving to impact the next generation of student leaders.

Yes, I help serve with 10th/11th grade guys on Sunday mornings, but what am I doing to speak life into their lives right now to show them that there is a God that loves them right now.

When I was in high-school (and even in college) I personally experienced the power of someone investing in my life — someone outside of my family who valued me, wanted to see me succeed, and desired my faith in God to grow.

So the question remains: what do I need to do?

Grab a bite to eat? Show them God’s love? Send an encouraging text?  Cheer them on at their football game?

Right now I’m challenged with probably a combination of all of the above.

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In what way can you impact the next generation right now?

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Thinking about ways to cohesively align with Orange’s vision, I will occasionally be blogging (and tweeting #thinkorange) with ‘The Next Generation’ in mind. I encourage you to do the same. Additionally, I will be blogging during the Orange Conference 2012. If you plan on being there, please let me know!

Investments

When my friend Moe sent me an email last year with his vision for Discipulus I was stoked. I am eager to read more (you should to!) and learn more about his heart in this particular area.

Not only do I view discipleship as an important part of our growth as believers, I have also personally experienced the effects of someone investing in my life.

Photo credit: Pulpolux (Creative Commons)

In high school, I had a small group leader who cared about me and what I was going through.

In college, I made a dear friend who invested his life into mine and showed me first-hand what it looked like to follow Christ.

A couple years back I made a year-long commitment to “do life” with a group of 7 other guys. I learned their stories; they learned mine. We grew closer and developed a bond that was beyond the surface-y, “Hey, how are you?” Sunday morning conversation.

This past year, a couple at church intentionally invested in our marriage. We sought advice, gained wisdom, and as a result, grew closer as a married couple.

Experiencing first-hand what happens when someone invests their life into yours is inspiring. I’m grateful to have received these types of investments over the last 15 years.

As I look into 2012 I want God to move in my heart to share more about this — what it looks like for me personally and how I want to extend my life out to my family and others. Specifically, there are a few areas of my life that I want to focus on: my family, my students (high school boys at church), and some men in my life.

Like financial investments, these deposits may not have an immediate return. They make take time. They may require ‘monthly contributions’ of seemingly insignificant amounts. But in the end, the results — I believe — will be great.

I have some exciting things in store this year that I can’t wait to share about — and they fall in line with exactly this: purposefully investing in something else and, in turn, intentionally being available to share your life with others.

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Tell me about someone who invested into your life.

Descending Down Your Mountains

Trekking up a mountain is a big deal (even Shaun King is doing it!).

I didn’t realize the magnitude of that statement until I actually reached the summit of Mt. Toubkal in Morocco.

But what I didn’t expect was that the descent down the mountain would be just as hard (if not harder).

After reaching the summit (13,671 ft), I assumed it to be smooth-sailing from there on out. I mean, the difficult part had to be over? Right?

Wrong.

Um.. big deal!

The journey back down to camp was just as draining — both physically and mentally.

The slopes seemed steeper, the rocks seemed bigger and the backpack seemed heavier.

Yes, I had accomplished my “goal” of reaching the summit, but was that really my end-goal?

My vision was short-sighted and I didn’t see the entire picture.

I forget sometimes that when I climb a “mountain”, I still need to make the trek back down.

I’ve had a few mountains that I’ve had to ‘descend’ in the past: mission trips, projects at work, family conflicts that needed resolution.

All require focus, intentionality, perseverance and a few band-aids.

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Tell us about a “mountain” have you descended down.

The Controlling Principle to Discipleship

As part of my men’s group this past month, we read one of my favorite books: Robert Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism. While I have read the book multiple times over the last ten years, I seem to glean something new every time I read this book. I would like to share one quote in particular that resonated with me this time:

“If we have learned even the most elemental truth of discipleship, we must know hat we are called to be servants of our Lord and to obey His word.” (Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism)

In short, complete obedience to God’s will is the controlling principle to discipleship.

Photo credit: Rebecca Krebs (Creative Commons)

Throughout my life, God will bring people into my life to pour into–friends, neighbors, coworkers. But, as a husband and father, my family is my first calling. My wife and children need me to intentionally lead them in their walks in passionately pursuing Christ as their personal Savior.

How can I expect to lead and disciple them if my heart isn’t completely yielded to God? This small example challenged and reminded me of a two things:

1. The leadership I provide to my family stems from my relationship with Christ. Jesus showed His followers all they needed to know by simply being with them.  I’ll find everything I need to know in God’s presence.
2. Obedience to God’s will is more than blind trust. It is active and intentional. It is a daily surrender and acknowledges “Not my will by yours.”

Be encouraged today as you lead your wife, your family, and those God has placed in your life. Look to Jesus’ example and press on.

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Who do you need to lead today?

What Kind of Man Am I Today?

Take a moment today to watch the following video from the band Sanctus Real. It’s a powerful message that we can all relate to.

Next, watch the following video where Matt Hammitt (lead singer) talks about the story behind the song.

He gets real and honest about the reasons why he wrote it.

Specifically, Matt and his wife open up and talk about resolving conflict, leadership, and fighting for your marriage.

At the end of the “Story Behind…” video, Matt poses the following questions:

What kind of man am I today?
Have I invested in my family emotionally and spiritually the way that God has called me to lead them?

Challenging questions. Ones that certainly prompt me to take a step back and evaluate how I am investing my time and energy. Their struggles in conflict resolution, in particular, resonate with me.

As I think through those questions, I’m reminded that my desire to lead my family is birthed out the way Christ leads me personally.

My heart wants to be willing–willing to demonstrate to them what it looks like to passionately pursue Christ. That needs to be my aim, and leading my wife and children will flow out of that.

HT: Justin Taylor

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In what way can you lead your spouse/family today?

Peacemakers and Peacekeepers

Are you a peacemaker or a peacekeeper?

When I take an honest look at my life, I think I would often bucket myself into the peacekeeper category.

You know those types of people: one who avoids conflict, doesn’t ruffle any feathers, and makes sure everyone is happy.

That is me. In fact, that has always been me.

As I read through the Beattitudes the other week (and though some wise counsel from a friend), naturally verse 9 seemed to already be highlighted in bright yellow.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9)

Do I simply seek to preserve peace, or do I intentionally seek out reconciliation in my relationships? Ouch. No need to write it down — I know what my answer would be.

I’ve mentioned this in the past: there have been times in the past where I avoid bringing up “issues” because I am fearful that it shows a sign of weakness.

That is passivity and a sure-fire characteristic of a peacekeeper. That is merely running from conflict.

On my own, I’m a peacekeeper. With Christ, I am peacemaker. I am grateful that with His strength I don’t have to settle for something that I am not. I want to remember that, through God, I have the ability to actively proclaim truth and love… even if that means breaking my “mold” and addressing a little conflict.

On a side note: what does a peacemaker look like? I like what an article on the Desiring God blog says:

A peacemaker is someone who experiences the peace of God (Philippians 4:7) because he is at peace (Romans 5:1) with the God of peace (Philippians 4:9) through the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6), who, indeed, is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), and who therefore seeks to live at peace with all others (Romans 12:18) and proclaims the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15) so that others might have joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13).

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Are you a peacekeeper or a peacemaker?

The Most Important Lesson I Learned in College

Today I have the honor of guest posting over at Randy Kinnick’s blog: eFlections on Doing Life. Randy is a solid dude who loves the Lord. He serves in pastoral leadership (adult discipleship and mentoring) in his Russellville, AR community. I encourage you to check out his other posts–they consistently speak to discipleship, community and the journey of faith.

I am sharing a profound insight that was demonstrated to my while I was in college. Here is an excerpt:

One of the most important things I learned in college didn’t occur in a classroom.

It wasn’t something I read in a textbook.

It was the intentional act of someone else personally inviting me into their life.

… Continue reading here.

Click on over to Randy’s site and give him some comment-love!

Participating in My Story

I’ve mentioned before that I am part of a “Training Circle” with a group of 6 other men from my church. We meet once a month to sharpen and share our lives with each other.

Along with the regular things we do each month (read a book, memorize scripture, relational assignment with our spouse), the most memorable thing we do each month is share our stories.

As we rotate each month, by the end of the year each man will have gotten 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to share his story with the group specifically given to give the others access into his life.

Each man’s story has been unique. Each has been powerful.

It is my turn this month.

Photo credit: Colin Harris (Creative Commons)

I’ll be honest: I struggle with believing that I have a “good story”.

I grew up in a loving and supportive home. My parents have been happily married for over 30 years. A legacy of faith has been passed down for generations as my grandparents actively serve God and pray for us grandchildren. My siblings love Jesus and one is even in the ministry. I’ve been a part of youth groups, served in the church, participated in missions, and have been met by God many times in my short life.

God blessed me with a phenomenal campus ministry in college where I met my wife. We got married right out of school, have three beautiful daughters, and live a comfortable life in north Atlanta.

Really, I’m grateful.

But…

How can this seemingly “good” life be used to speak into someone else’s life? Hollywood would never green light my life into a major motion picture. It’s so bland. So boring.

That’s when it hit me. Well, that’s when God hit me (over the head).

Dustin, you are participating in My story. Your life story and experiences all point to my goodness.

While I don’t have any of the ‘extremes’ that have happened in my life, I am still an imperfect being. Like everyone else, I still need a Savior to rescue me. No matter how hard I try, I will always fail to meet God’s standard on my own. All the things I put before God will always fall short.

My pride.
My self-preservation.
My lustful eyes.
My greed.
My internal anger.

And remember those confessions I mentioned the other week? There still here and I’m still processing them. Confessing and laying them before God is hard, but necessary.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)

Today, I am grateful that our God is in the business of rescue. No matter how big or how small, He will reach down, meet us where we’re at, and pick us up and graft us into His Story.

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Describe a time when God told/showed you “You are participating in My story.”

The Training Circle

One my monthly highlights happened last night. Once a month for three hours I get together with seven other men from church for a time that is intentionally structured to foster community, accountability and spiritual growth.

We call it The Training Circle.

One Sunday night a month we catch up with each other, recite memory verses, and talk about our monthly homework–usually we read through a book, have a relational assignment with our wives and meet another guy for lunch. On top of those things, one man each month shares his story–from top to bottom, birth to present, all the ups and downs. By far, this is the highlight of the night as we get to see how God has drawn this person to Himself over the years. In the end, the purpose of our night is to intentionally pursue life in Jesus Christ as our greatest passion.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

We are a curious group of misfits. We range from young to old, kids to no kids, varying professions, and very different life stories. Colorful personalities, diverse walks of life.

I love it.

As C.S. Lewis was fond of saying, people need more to be reminded than instructed. So this post was meant as an encouragement to fellowship/have community/be accountable (whatever you want to call it) with other believers. Live life together. Be intentional. Share your story.

(On a side note: We read through The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning this month. It was phenomenal. I have plans to do a week-long blog series on some of my takeaways. Think #RagamuffinWeek. Stay tuned!)

In what ways are you fostering accountability, community or fellowship in your own life?

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